Multitrack Madness

Sgt Sony

A CappellaBack in 1985 my brother Houston introduced me to Todd Rundgren’s innovative album, A Cappella [sic]. Rundgren used digital sampling to create an album made up only of the human voice. He added distortion and manipulated the sounds to emulate drums and other instruments. Back then this was really impressive, and I was amazed that one human voice could create such music.

Of course, now this is common place. Beat-boxing came in with rap music about the time Rundgren’s album came out. TV shows like Glee have renewed interest in a capella singing, specifically with Do Wop and other popular music that wasn’t originally arranged for voices only. Combine that with technology that can turn just about any computer into a multi-track recording studio, and you have many people turning out their own a capella renditions. Continue reading “Multitrack Madness”


St. George Ceiling

In case your Cyrillic is rusty, the title of this post is from Psalm 104, “Praise the Lord, O My Soul”, and is one of the pieces that make up part of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. This weekend we performed the piece with the Greenville Chorale on Sunday afternoon at First Baptist Church.

This was a real challenge. The music itself wasn’t so hard, but there was so much of it. We did in an hour what we normally stretch out over two, when you add in soloists and orchestra. Throw in a layer of very difficult language, and you have a nearly impossible task.

I had done parts of the Vespers before, so I was somewhat familiar with the music. The sixth movement is the “Hail Mary” section, and I had done it several times with both the Latin Ave Maria text and the Russian. Even so, I found myself stumbling over music and text, even in the final performance. Continue reading “??????????-????-???”

Taylor Family Singing

Since I was hanging close to home over the Thanksgiving holidays I had some time to work on some overdue projects. One of these projects was to process some of the audio from my mother’s 80th birthday party. We sat around and sang hymns and even did our a capella rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. … Continue reading Taylor Family Singing

Shape Note Singing at Furman

Open Square Formation

Saturday morning I skipped out on a bunch of gardening chores that Laura had lined up for me and went to a shape note singing at Furman. When I arrived, there were about thirty singers already in their open square configuration, singing away.

Unlike the William Walker Memorial Singing at Wofford a couple of months ago, this event was held in a room designed for singing. The sound in Herring Hall (where the Greenville Chorale rehearses) was much more resonant, and the tunes sounded much better than they did in the dead room at Wofford.

The group started singing from the Southern Harmony, which has the more traditional do-re-mi scale. Even so, I struggled with the note names on the initial sing-through, and wound up singing “la” for most of the notes. For the second hour of the morning, they switched to the Sacred Harp, which uses the four-shape fa-so-la scale. It was much harder, and I never really got the hang of the note names. There was a break when we switched from one tune book to the other, and I had a chance to talk with several of the singers. I was told that Southern Harmony tends to be a bit more subdued, whereas Sacred Harp singing is always more raucous. Even though the notes were more difficult for me, I was up for high-energy raucous singing. Continue reading “Shape Note Singing at Furman”

2nd Mahler’s 2nd

For the second time in less than a year I am performing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, and this is the second orchestra with whom I’ve performed this work. The Greenville Chorale joined the Greenville Symphony this weekend for two performances, one Saturday night and one Sunday afternoon. Last time, we performed with the Brevard Music Center … Continue reading 2nd Mahler’s 2nd

A Concert of Remembrance

This afternoon the Greenville Chorale presents Music for Life – Celebrated & Remembered. The concert will be at First Baptist Church at 3:00 pm, and will feature the Durafle’ Requiem, Brahms Nanie, and several shorter works. This year our concert season was thrown off a bit with unusual scheduling. This left and opportunity for a … Continue reading A Concert of Remembrance